BATISTE: Are Mitch’s Monument-Removal Donors Drying Up?
Mitch Landrieu hit a snag on his fundraising efforts to remove the four controversial Civil War monuments in New Orleans. A source close to The Hayride confirmed that the plan to fund the costly removal processes has changed from one anonymous donor to multiple check-writers in order to try to cover the expenses of the costlier-than-anticipated process. And now, Landrieu has had a big set back after the Mayor’s top donor opted out of his donation. Other unnamed donors are also reconsidering opening their checkbooks to the most contentious issue dividing New Orleans in decades.
Most of the recent divisive city issues have been related to political elections.The New Orleans City Council vote to demolish and replace four housing projects after Katrina may be the closest to the monument-removal debate, albeit on a much smaller scale. Of course the people arguing not to demolish the old projects for a litany of reasons including their historical relevance are some of the same people demanding these monuments be removed. Others are just new in town like Quess Moore of Take Em Down NOLA.
The Mayor has said from the beginning that public funds will not be used to remove the monuments. “Ahead of the vote, a member of the Landrieu administration (Eric Granderson) gave assurances that no public money would be spent on the job.” The need for multiple donors as opposed to the original single donor shows the public and underground support for the monuments to remain part of New Orleans’ historical portfolio.
In January Landrieu announced 2016 donations from the Wisner Donation Fund which included a $250,000 grant to the Foundation For Louisiana. Last year the Times Picayune covered that the Foundation For Louisiana would be the financial agent between the anonymous donor and the monument removal contractor.
“We wouldn’t be serving as fiscal agent if we weren’t supportive of the position that a majority of residents in the city have on this particular issue,” said Flozell Daniels Jr., president and chief executive of Foundation For Louisiana.
That $250,000 grant is two and a half times larger than the donations of $100,000 which went to the New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation and the New Orleans Museum of Art. It’s obvious where the monuments sit on Landrieu’s priority list: two and a half times more important than crime fighting and first responders.
The public bidding process has been kept in the shadows more so than any other known city business in the self proclaimed transparent government of Mitch Landrieu. This time the City has blocked information such as the names of companies that have downloaded the bid documents.
The Landrieu administration has also made accusations of “threats,” “violence,” and “property damage” associated with monument supporters. No violence or property damage has been linked to monument supporters. Threats of boycotts are American and have been practiced regularly for decades. The property damage involves a car fire near Baton Rouge. Ironically the car was set on fire after the contractor withdrew from the job, meaning the more obvious logic would tie the fire to the anti-monument crowd. Or maybe it had to do with the lawsuit Business Report reported between five former employees and the car owner and the car fire had nothing to do with New Orleans or monuments.
The fact remains: not one bid has been publicly submitted to remove the four historic monuments.